As I mentioned in an earlier post, my cousin Kathy is also a writer and has written her own share of articles, stories, and poetry. Recently, she read a certain book, Tuesdays with Morrie written by Mitch Albom. She also saw the movie and was compelled to write about it. This had originally been a classroom assignment but she felt so affected and inspired by what she read and subsequently wrote, that she desired to share it with someone. She chose to share it here on my blog. It is her hope that the true story of Morrie would reach and inspire others. Kathy is a gentle and sensitive person and with every writing project she completes she leaves the stamp of her heart in it. So here is the third installment of Kathy B’s review and the insight she gained in reading Tuesdays
Tuesdays with Morrie Part 3
On the next Tuesday, Morrie informed Mitch that he had lost the war; someone had to assist him to clean his bottom. In a way, this was difficult to accept because it meant totally giving in to the ALS. But, he accepted with grace, even asking his caregiver if she comfortable enough to do it. The time had come when he was nearly completely dependent on the help of others. However, he looked for and found a reason to enjoy that as well. The experience was like being a child again. He just cherished the loving kindness of a human touch. Aging also came up that day. Mitch asked him if he would like to be young again. He answered that it was impossible not to be a bit jealous of young people. His youth had passed, however, and it was time to embrace the age he was now, seventy-eight. If he had remained the same age, he would not have grown as a person. Without a shred of vanity, he had great self- esteem, good feelings and satisfaction with himself and with his life without thinking too highly of himself. (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). The point was simple. Mitch was a regular part of his caregiving team now, every Tuesday. In order to loosen the congestion that clogged his lungs and chest, he had to have his back pounded, sometimes, in the middle of conversations (Albom, 1997).
Janine came along with Mitch a few weeks before he died. Mitch’s wife was a professional singer. She never sang for anyone privately before; Mitch was amazed that she sang for Morrie. Suddenly, he heard her sweet voice coming from the other room. Mitch was thrilled; the two people he loved most were finally meeting and talking together! A few days later, the Nightline crew came for the last time. Ted Koppel considered himself to be Morrie’s friend as well by now. Even the rather serious Ted Koppel became emotional this time. It was clear that it was the end. Ted asked him if he was afraid of death. In fact, he said that he was less afraid of it now as it came closer. As his physical limitations grew, he became more thoughtful and introspective. At the end of the interview, he admitted that he was trying to bargain with God. It was not about getting more time as one usually does; he wanted to be an angel (Albom, 1997).
This was quite a remarkable request of God because he had been an agnostic, not sure what or who to believe in before this experience. One of Morrie’s great quotes was this one: “My disease,” Morrie once said, lying in the chair in his West Newton, Mass., study, “is the most horrible and wonderful death. Horrible because, well, look at me” — he cast his eyes down on his ragged, shrunken body — “but wonderful because of all the time it gives me to say to good-bye. And to figure out where I’m going next.” “And where is that?” he was asked. He grinned like an elf. “I’ll let you know” (Albom, 1995). On one of their last Tuesdays together, Mitch and Morrie talked about forgiveness. First, one must forgive oneself before he can forgive other people. Norman was a friend of Morrie’s for years. Because of hurt feelings, they never had the chance to speak again because he died of cancer three years before. Morrie also spoke of his father, the wasted years he spent being angry and resentful at him because he was not allowed to grieve his mother openly, and for being a distant father. Again, Mitch had the tables turned on him. Morrie began to encourage Mitch to reach out to his brother. Mitch promised him that he would soon.
The last Tuesday came – the time for good-bye. Charlotte came to hug Mitch. As he did, the long row of medications, the drugs he had taken for so long, caught his eye. When he turned the corner, he saw the hospice nurse. (N. Hooyman & H. Kiyak, 2010). She was part of the twenty-four team, waiting for the end to handle the end of life issues that come up to make it easier for the family. In broken, breathless sentences, Morrie told Mitch that he loved him and gestured for him to hold his hand. He was in bed. It was obvious that Morrie was very tired. Mitch gave him a kiss and brushed his face against his own face. For an instant, he saw pleasure on Morrie’s face. Yes, Mitch was finally letting go and showing his emotion; tears were running down his face. His old professor had told him that he would make Mitch cry one day. He had finally succeeded. Morrie died on Saturday, November 4, 1995. Ironically, as if Morrie had planned it, the funeral was held on Tuesday; after all, they were Tuesday people (Albom, 1997).
Conclusion and Final Thoughts
Mitch wrote a tribute article for his newspaper eight days after Morrie died. This section is based on it, He died the way he wanted, at peace and in his sleep. He waited until everyone was in the other room before he left this life. Mitch believed that that was on purpose so that no one had to watch him die. The funeral was small, as both Morrie and Charlotte wanted. The wind was cold and the skies were grey. His grave site was on a grassy slope above a little pond. Mitch flashed back to a conversation they had had in October.
“You know, when I’m gone I hope you’ll come visit me,” he had said.
“At my grave. I’ve picked a lovely spot, a good place to sit and ask me questions. I’m not sure how I’ll answer, but I’ll try” (Albom, 1995).
Mitch mentioned in the update to the book that he longer has to visit the grave to hear his voice. He even jokes that the book was Morrie’s revenge for not seeing him in sixteen years. He said that he never forgets a thing now. It is just one of the many ways that Morrie changed him. Morrie has reached millions now. Many millions watched him on Nightline. The book reached millions more, and it continues to touch more students as it is assigned reading in classes like this one. Many others, thanks to Oprah Winfrey, saw the movie of the same name with Jack Lemmon as Morrie. In fact, it was Jack’s last credited role before he died of cancer. As much as I love Jack Lemmon, and his portrayal was outstanding, the eyewitness account was more powerful for me.
For those interested in reading this true story, Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom, you can find it at the Amazon.com website and here is the link to it: